Richie Allen: A Lifeguard Transformed

Summer after summer, Richie Allen stood watch along the beaches of the Rockaways, keeping swimmers out of danger. He had his share of ocean rescues, and then there was the one he pulled off on dry land, after a couple of people dug a giant hole in the sand that then collapsed around them. When he was not in the tall lifeguard's chair himself, he was never very far away. He'd create a hammock by tying a sheet to the supports beneath the chair and rest there awhile, enjoying the breeze blowing and the gulls calling and the pace of one more nice warm day.

He was the much-adored oldest of six children, and his siblings trailed him into lifeguarding. "Growing up in Rockaway, if you can swim, then that's the best job to have," said Judy Aiken, one of his sisters. He got other jobs